Attorney general announces formation of new heroin unit

Huron County isn't the only place in Ohio battling this epidemic; new data show steady rise in heroin deaths
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Nov 18, 2013


"There is a heroin epidemic in Ohio," state Attorney General Mike DeWine said today in a news conference to announce disturbing new figures about the use of heroin in the state.

The data, gathered from coroners across the state, show that the use of heroin has increased dramatically over the last four years.

"Communities have to wake up. If you don't think you have a problem, you are probably wrong," DeWine said. "Local law enforcement understands the problem. As I have traveled the state, over and over sheriffs and police and coroners tell me how bad it is. Unfortunately, there are people out there who don't believe heroin is really in their communities. They don't want to believe that this can be them -- that this can be their child who is addicted or who is going to die from a heroin overdose. The numbers tell a different story. We know that, at minimum, 606 families across this state were directly impacted in 2012 by a heroin death," DeWine said.

"We have to fight this epidemic at the grassroots level -- community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood. We have to get mad and say, 'Enough is enough!'"

DeWine announced a new effort his office is undertaking to assist law enforcement agencies, community leaders, and Ohio residents in this fight.

The Attorney General's Heroin Unit, which will include investigators, lawyers, and drug abuse awareness specialists, will assist in combating issues associated with the heroin epidemic, such as crime, addiction, and overdose deaths.

"New data our office has gathered suggests 11 people die in Ohio every week from a heroin overdose," DeWine said. "Heroin abuse and addiction has been a problem for a long time, one I keep hearing about as I talk with parents, prosecutors, and law enforcement around the state. These new efforts to fight heroin will not be the full solution to Ohio's heroin problem, but by providing what services we can, we hope to save lives and prevent addiction."

The decision to create the specialized unit was made after new data gathered by the Attorney General's Office in the past month revealed a 107-percent increase in heroin deaths among more than half of Ohio's counties. The data was collected from 47 Ohio coroner's offices with complete heroin overdose data for 2010, 2011, and2012.

The results are as follows:

*2010: 292 heroin overdose deaths

*2011: 395 heroin overdose deaths

*2012: 606 heroin overdose deaths

The reporting counties with the largest number of heroin overdoses in 2012 include:

*Cuyahoga County: 161

*Franklin County: 73

*Hamilton County: 54

*Montgomery County: 93

Montgomery County Coroner Kent Harshbarger, who is also the Chief Forensic Officer for the Ohio State Coroners Association, attended today's announcement.

"Heroin deaths in Montgomery County so far in 2013 are up to 92, nearly the number for the entire 2012 year," Harshbarger said. "I'm glad there is an increased effort to try to fight this increasing problem plaguing our state and killing too many Ohioans."

The parents of 20-year-old Marin Riggs, of Upper Arlington, said heroin is the definition of heartbreak for them.

"Marin was 20 and headed to college to become an ultrasound technician," said Heidi Riggs. "Her smile, which lit up the room, was extinguished by her heroin addiction, which lured her back after six months of sobriety. We hope to encourage other parents to talk to their kids and know that heroin is readily available in every suburb of every city in every state for about $10."

The Ohio Attorney General's Office also issued a heroin contact list for law enforcement, community leaders, and the public to help find resources and answer questions.

"Despite major efforts to fight the heroin epidemic on the state, local, and national level, the problem is not going away, and people are continuing to die," DeWine said. "Heroin injects addiction, deception, and death in the lives of so many young people, and we hope this new effort can save lives."



It does kind of surprise me that this JUST now is an issue with the governor. I'm sure that Huron County alone has had enough problems to raise a red flag. The HCSD works their butts off trying to get this crap off the street and one rich girl from UA gets addicted and its a problem? I wish they would have done something sooner, you know before it made it into the rich neighborhoods.


"There is a heroin epidemic in Ohio," state Attorney General Mike DeWine said.--
Has DeWine become Sherlock Holmes?

Scranton Tibbs

Equally as bad of a problem, at least in Huron county anyway, is the light sentencing and 2nd, 3rd, 4th, & 5th chances given by our judge. THIS is what needs looked into. There is no incentive NOT to behave by these people. Low bonds, dropped charges, plea bargains, and stints at club rehab don't solve the drug problem.


Would love to say let them all kill themselves but Im sure they have families who love them. But it is ridiculous how easy they get off when caught. Maybe stiffer punishment would help... IDK.


Maybe they need to talk to the ones who make the LAWS!!! They allow those who are caught to have too many chances. Club Rehab and slaps on the wrist leave no impression to NOT do it again. Heck I have had a thought to start selling myself. I mean there is no incentive to NOT do it. You can test dirty numerous times and still have nothing happen. This is a problem from the TOP down. Attorney General HOLDER himself has discussed making non violent drug offenses serve NO PRISON TIME. You can have all the "intense probation" you want but until there is some kind of consequence, they will keep doing it!!!

Gone Fishing

Oh how I knew there would be a least one uneducated comment. Light sentencing is probably due to the fact that felony fives only carry up to a 12 month sentence, then throw in the fact that first time offenders are NOT eligible for prison. This was a law that was voted in by the people of ohio. Conway nor did any other judge make this law. Also let me in lighten you on another fact Conway does not make plea deals the prosecutors office does. Once again out of Conways hands and last but not least the bond issue the state requires all defendants to have a fair bond that fits the crime for example if Conway sets a 500,000 bond for a felony 5 guess what the lawyer is going to start filing all kinds of motions to higher courts ect. Once again out of Conways hands. Oh and last but not least you can once again thank the prosecutors office and hcso for allowing all these all these snitches to snitch and get out on OR bonds with out really ever having to spend any time in jail. Over all I think we have many more people to blame than just Conway.

Scranton Tibbs

This is exactly what I was getting at. I wasn't blaming Conway for all the problems, I believe the entire system is a failure. Whether it's the courts, the prosecutors, the public defenders, or law enforcement. They all have failed. Good post.


I have read a lot of your posts and I really don't understand.

First I don't understand why you believe law enforcement has failed. Their job is to arrest people where there is probable cause to believe they have committed crimes. This happens on a daily basis in this county.
Second - I don't understand why you think the Public Defender's office has failed. Their job is to defend people accused of committing crimes and to seek the lightest punishment possible. If anything, your complaint is that they do their job to well.
Third - I don't understand why you think the prosecutor's office has failed. If the prosecutor fails to offer a plea bargain he runs the risk of the Court of Appeals finding this failure to be prosecutorial misconduct requiring the end of the case and release of the criminal.

Gone Fishing

I just get sick of people always complaining about Conway. How about we start to complain to all the people that voted these laws in. Better yet why don't they start to complain to the people that wrote the sentencing guide lines. Everyone just takes shots at Conway because he's a easy target. By the way I'm not saying Conway is perfect in fact I disagree with many things he does but I do know what everyone accuses of him doing, is out of his hands.


Heroin like any opiate will arrest the breathing reflex. Try holding your breath for as long as you can. You can't. Your body's reflex to breathe kicks in.

Opiates like heroin will shut down the reflex to breathe. If you go to sleep while over-dosing on an opiate, you will die. If you are awake, force yourself to breathe and get medical help.

There is a drug that counters the effects of opiates called Naloxone.
Marijuana Cures Methadone and Heroin Addiction!
Dr. Phil Leveque Professor of Pharmacology Articles written by Dr. Phil Leveque


And when you give Narcan for an overdose, you can expect a POed addict...because you ruined their high (never mind the fact that they'd have been dead without the Narcan...).


Close the US borders to start,


What is really pathetic about the whole lenient sentencing of heroin related crimes is that you can spend more time in jail for non-support than you can for being caught with heroin! WTF?!? Our legal system has become nothing more than a joke anymore. While convicted drug abusers and dealers walk freely about in our society like it's no big deal you have people setting in jail for not paying their child support, for driving under suspension, and man other non-violent crimes. Hell let's just let all non-violent offenders out of jail and give them lenient sentences because it seems to work so well with the heroin addicts of Heroin County. I wonder if the judge leaves work everyday feeling like he has accomplished something or if he leaves work thinking "man, laws need to change so we can get these people actual real help or let them rot in jail for a while". I'm betting if you had a judge over there in Heroin County that started sending them to prison or at least 6 months in the County jail you would start to see a decline with the Heroin problem. Offenders would start getting the clue that they better get clean and start being productive members of society or they are going to be locked up and away from their family and friends for a minimum of 6 months and will have to detox the hard way. Society as a whole is turning into a bunch of dope headed crybabies that can't seem to cope with what life throws at them and they immediately search out an escape from reality rather than searching for a solution to the problem....JMHO